May 18, 2020

In preparation for my next book project, a teaching memoir tentatively titled Nice Work If You Can Get It, I have been reviewing dozens of teaching-related posts on this blog from the past several years. This one from 2017 strikes a chord that many people of faith will find familiar these days. By the time this posts, close to 100,000 Americans will have died of Covid-19, with no obvious end in sight. Each of those people were someone’s mother, father, brother,… Read more

May 17, 2020

Under normal circumstances, my college’s Commencement exercises would be taking place this morning, with thousands of family members, friends, well-wishers, and members of the college community packing the arena where the Providence Friars play basketball. Circumstances right now, of course, are anything but normal, so our college President will confer degrees virtually on Zoom to our hundreds of graduates. If I had the opportunity to deliver a commencement address to our graduating seniors, it would be quite different than the… Read more

May 14, 2020

I viewed Martin Doblmeier’s documentary about Dorothy Day, “Revolution of the Heart,” a few days ago. Doblmeier is a graduate of Providence College where I have taught for the past twenty-five years. I use Doblmeier’s documentary on Dietrich Bonhoeffer in class every time I team-teach “Grace, Truth, and Freedom in the Nazi Era” (fourth time this coming spring). Dorothy Day was a radical Catholic Christian. She understood that anarchism, communism, and Christianity have far more in common than many would… Read more

May 12, 2020

During the early weeks of the semester in our “Apocalypse” seminar, my teaching colleague from the English department opened a lecture with a PowerPoint slide containing the famous final lines from T. S. Eliot’s 1925 poem “The Hollow Men,” imagining an unspectacular fizzling out of things rather than something more dramatic. With apologies to Eliot, I imagined that if he had been teaching this semester, he might have ended his poem with a one-word change. This is the way the semester… Read more

May 10, 2020

The New Testament reading in today’s lectionary line-up is the stoning of Stephen from the Book of Acts. This reminds me of a brief conversation I had with a Benedictine monk a decade ago. “Happy Stoning Day!” Brother John said as he greeted me after noon prayer the day after Christmas. December 26 is the Feast of St. Stephen, officially designated as the first Christian martyr. Brother John, a guitar-picking, out-of-the-box product of the sixties, is not your typical Benedictine. “I’ve… Read more

May 8, 2020

The final unit in my General Ethics class that ended last week was Gun Violence. We spent the last five 75-minute classes on Zoom reading and discussing contemporary essays from philosophers on the Second Amendment, gun violence, and why all attempts to curb gun violence and mass shootings to date have essentially failed. My students, mostly 20-21-year-old juniors and seniors, were born into and have lived in a world in which gun violence and mass shootings are tragically “normal” occurrences…. Read more

May 5, 2020

In the interdisciplinary program I teach in and used to direct, the first semester faculty have to make many tough choices. Iliad or Odyssey? What texts from the Hebrew Scriptures? The New Testament? What to use from Plato and Aristotle–or, God forbid, Plato or Aristotle? And no less challenging—which of the triumvirate of great Greek tragedians? Usually it is a toss-up between the profundity of Sophocles and the brilliance of Euripides, but for one recent fall semester, my teammate and I opted for the first… Read more

May 4, 2020

My newest online publication at “Bearings Online,” link below, reflects on the appropriateness of coronavirus seclustion and separation during the Easter season. When the time comes, what will our emergence from the tomb be like? What does resurrection in real time look like? Enjoy! Emerging from the Tomb Read more

May 2, 2020

As horrific and tragic as most Covid-19 stories are, every once in a while these days I come across a story that both makes me smile and gives me hope. These stories have a common theme–while the fragility of human lives and interests are on daily display world-wide, it appears that non-human nature is benefitting from, even kind of enjoying, the brave new world that the coronavirus has thrust upon us. For instance, a new species of clientele is showing… Read more

April 30, 2020

I am not a complainer by nature. My wife, my family, and my friends would attest to this (I think). I’m an optimist at heart, a glass-half-full sort of guy. I’m like the kid from the joke who explains why he is digging through a pile of horseshit by saying that “there must be a pony in here somewhere.” I will admit that my native optimism has been challenged more seriously than usual over the past several weeks—but most of… Read more

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